Can earthquakes be predicted?

Since we live in one of the most active seismic zones in the world, what’s the lattest on earthquake prediction.

I was reading this week that there is more science to the dog barking theory than wives tale.

Sorry, no real scientific method yet discovered.

5 years in Japan taught me to

  1. always listen to the birds singing -when they stop panic
  2. wear clean underwear
  3. always carry 5 litres of clean drinking water
  4. carry a satellite phone so that the marines can come and get you out
  5. pray a lot!
  6. don’t stand near plate glass windows to watch spectacular collapse of 101 etc.
    You could try Tarot :wink:

Sure. I predict there will be another EQ in Taiwan soon.



Several months before 921 seismologists in Taiwan did say that we were due for a Kobe-sized quake but could not predict exactly when.
I saw this in a small new item in one of the English papers.

Shortly afterwards, Douglas Haebacker (the guy who now runs and Compass magazine) wrote in his Taiwan News column about whether or not Taiwan was really prepared for the next Big One. He concluded that Taiwan was woefully unprepared.
He must have felt a small glow of I-told-you-so smugness when the quake did occur.

After 921 there was talk of a warning system to warn Taipei of any Earthquakes just before they hit. Earthquakes travel at 7 Km/sec so any sensors in Nantou or Hualian could send a signal to Taipei a couple of moments before it hit.
Seems nothing came of it.

I think a “big” quake is expected to occur in Jiayi, so the 921 quake was not it.

There are some entries in another thread somewhere about my efforts to predict earthquakes by dog and pigeon behaviour.

There was or still is, I cant remember, a group of scientists in Japan labelled the “7 wise men.” Their task is to predict earthquakes and give the Japanese population ample warning to prepare.
However, everytime they predict an earthquake wrongly or don’t predict an earthquake at all they get the sack, and a new set of “7 wise men” are re-instated by the government, eneviatably to get the sack when they dont predict the next earthquake.


I think a “big” quake is expected to occur in Jiayi, so the 921 quake was not it. [/quote]

I don’t follow.

At the moment most of the predictions are based on statistical methods. One says, that if in one region there have been 4 earthquakes 7.0 and up within the last 200 years, then there is a 50% chance that there will be another big one in the next 50 years. Quite lousy, if you ask me. I read somewhere that a big earthquake in the Tokio-region is a decade or so overdue. Well, statistics seem to be no good here.

There have been other attempts of course, by measuring the conductivity for electricity in the earths crust, or a change in the electro-magnetic field prior to a big earthquake or any chemical change in spring water before a big earthquake. There is also this theory of mini-quakes preceding a big one.
Some scientists do put their hope on animal’s behavior (snakes leaving their pits, dogs howling, you get the idea) but I am sceptical that approach is promising. What the heck does a dog know about earthquakes and why should he be bothered? The earth is shaking a bit, he might fall over but that’s it for him. Nothing too dramatic for a dog, I guess.

Anyway, I have become fatalistic here in Taiwan, and I stay away from buildings that are said to be build poorly. In Tainan that’s the empty Far East tower, since someone told me they ran out of money midway, so they saved money on security.:astonished:

I think a “big” quake is expected to occur in Jiayi, so the 921 quake was not it. [/quote]
I don’t follow.[/quote]
Historically, there are big earthquakes centred on Jiayi every ??? years or so. The epicentre of the 921 earthquake was in Nantou, so it did not belong to the supposed Jiayi earthquake cycle. As far as I recall, the standing prediction was and is for a big earthquake centred in Jiayi, so the 921 quake was not the predicted one.

Rather than governments spending money trying (without success) to predict earthquakes, they’d do better to enforce safe building regulations so that the roof doesn’t collapse on you when the big one hits.

If you’re in the market to rent a house, look for one of those one-storey illegal “tiepi” (sheet metal) homes. Ironically, they’re a lot safer than most of the legal concrete boxes that are so popular here.


Earthquakes are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. Ironically however on the moon there are no eartquakes, although there has been talk in the industry about Mcdonalds opening an outlet.

bob is now on your Ignore List

Earthquakes are caused by the the movements of huge solid tectonic plates that are kinda floating on a sticky, thick magmatic liquid. It often happens that these plates, as they move in opposite directions, scrape against or bump into one another. Because these movements are slow, tremendous pressure builds up. When the plates become ‘unstuck’, the release of pressure is sudden and an earhquake is the result. Can these be predicted? To a certain extent, especially along fault lines e.g. the San Andreas fault and the Great African Rift valley. When I say predict I mean something like “Taiwan is due for another big quake in the ???area.” Scientists are certainly aware of tectonic forces and pressure building up. However, predicting exactly when it would hit, is impossible. There are just too many variables, and an earthquake is after all ‘a sudden’ release of pressure.

But then, what do I know?

Fox - I recommend you use Google to search around for the latest information on earthquake prediction.
I just did a search and there’s masses of information on this topic on the Internet; much more than you’re ever likely to get from the seismologists who post on this forum.
OK, that was a bit sarcastic but honestly google is your best bet for this kind of info.

Thanks Spack,

In my research I have discovered quite a bit about prediction possibilities.

It seems that scientists are already able to predict earthquakes using a number of precursors. However, because of a lack of homgenity between sights most prediction methods become statitically dependent. All the same, the most promising of methods is a new area of science called ionospheric coupling. Essentially 5 to 7 days before an eathquake the ionosphere is lowered due to electromagnetic effects in the earth caused by the pressure build up generating currents through the crustal surface. This process produces a number of effects one being a heat signature and the other being improved ULF and VHF radio signals. It is the lowering of the ionosphere that also sets the dogs off. Statistically, from earthquake catalogs they have been able to determine about a 70% correlation between precursor effects and a greater than 5 magnitude earthquake. These stats improve with the magnitude of the earthquake. That means the bigger the earthquake the more recognizable the association between the precursors and the quake in question.

Spack - If you ignore me you may miss out on some tremendous bit of wit and wisdom!

Unlikely in your case bob!
This ignore feature just makes me want to see what you wrote anyway which sort of defeats the object. :laughing:

I’ll just have to ignore you in the conventional fashion by sticking my nose in the air and turning my head away…

Ha ha ha! I knew you couldn’t do it! :raspberry: